WHAT IS A CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANCT [CPA]?
A CPA is a licensed professional that provides accounting, tax, auditing, financial planning, and management consulting services and meets stringent professional ethical conduct and qualifications including passing the Uniform CPA Examination, administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (Aicpa) (www.aicpa.org). CPAs are licensed by each state and in California, only a person who is licensed by the California Board of Accountancy can legally use the title CPA. A CPA in one state (e.g., New York) may be allowed to practice in another state (e.g., California) if reciprocal agreements exist. The two-year experience requirement frequently must be satisfied in the second state before the accountant is granted a license to practice. Other countries have certifications equivalent to the CPA. For example, in Canada, accountants similar to the CPA are called Chartered Accountants (CA).
HOW TO SELECT A CPA
Visit the article on the California Board of Accountancy web site about selecting a CPA
CONFIDENTIALITY BETWEEN THE CPA AND CLIENT
CPAs have a strict confidentiality policy and will never disclose information to other parties without your written approval. However, it is important to understand there is Limited Accountant [CPA] – Client privilege under Federal law, NOT the same as Attorney – Client privilege. There is privilege of confidentiality to tax advice furnished to a client taxpayer or a potential client taxpayer by any individual that is authorized under Federal law to practice before the IRS. However, the privilege is limited ONLY to tax advice and tax strategy. There is NO privilege of confidentiality as it comes to past or current illegal acts.
If you have been, or are currently engaged in illegal acts, it is imperative that you contact an attorney to discuss them. If upon consultation with your attorney it is determined that you still need the services of a CPA, have your attorney retain the CPA directly to work on your behalf. At that time, the Attorney – Client privilege will extend to the CPA.